The opening race of the 2022 Canadian Superbike Championship season brought plenty of fireworks on Saturday, as Ben Young held off an early attack to win the Pro Superbike feature opener at the Grand Bend Motorplex.
Young started from the middle of the front row aboard his Van Dolder’s Home Team BMW after ceding pole position to local rookie Trevor Dion on Friday, but made up for that right away as he grabbed the holeshot into turn one for the 20-lap feature event.
His early lead was anything but safe, as Young outlasted an immediate pass attempt from Dion in second and was followed closely by a four-rider pack well into the halfway point of the race. However, Young’s experience around the Grand Bend circuit began to come into play in the second half, as he sliced his way through lapped traffic to clear the chasing pack behind and cruise towards a sixth career Superbike victory.
“I got the start of my life out there, but I knew Trevor would try and get me back right away, so I just tried to bank in consistent times and ride a smooth race start to finish,” Young said. “The BMW worked great, and fortunately we were able to bring home big points, but now we all got to work on some things and try do it again tomorrow.”
Dion was the biggest challenger to Young in the early going, but ultimately couldn’t maintain the pace at the front as he struggled with lapped traffic towards the end. The rookie would eventually give way to defending champion Alex Dumas, who came home second after choosing a soft front Dunlop tire compared to the supersofts of his rivals.
“It wasn’t the start we wanted, so I got stuck behind these guys a little bit at the start and I wasn’t able to get them back soon enough,” the Liqui Moly Fast School Suzuki rider said. “The tires started to come alive in the last few laps and I had a lot of pace at the end, but we’re going to have to get a better start in race two tomorrow.”
As for Dion, his eventual third-place finish would add to an already sensational weekend for the local rookie, as he overcame gearing troubles to earn a hard-fought podium for his wave of supporters aboard his LDS Consulting BMW.
“It’s really hard to run a Superbike here, but I’m happy to gain some experience and pick up a podium in the process,” Dion said. “I thought I had Ben for a moment there in the carousel, but he came right back at me and I just didn’t have the pace to stay up there. We have some work to do for tomorrow, but it’s still a really awesome feeling.”
Climbing his way to fourth was OneSpeed Suzuki rider Trevor Daley, who struggled through a difficult opening few laps but eventually carved through the grid and into the top-five, salvaging a strong result and showing podium pace in the process as he celebrated his 50th career start in the Superbike category.
Completing the top five was another local standout in Steven Nickerson, who ran with the lead pack early on and challenged Dumas for much of the race before fading to fifth as he recovers from lingering knee injuries aboard his Dewildt Powerhouse Honda.
Finishing just shy of Nickerson was the Quebecois duo of Sebastian Tremblay and Samuel Guerin, as both riders reeled in a top-five spot in the late going but were unable to capitalize as Tremblay secured sixth aboard his ST Motorsport Kawasaki and Guerin sealed seventh for the EFC Group BMW team.
While Dion was unable to climb to the top step in the feature Pro Superbike race, he did manage a victory on the day as he won an incident-filled affair in the Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike category.
Dion ran in second for the entirety of the early portion behind pole-sitter David MacKay, but a red-flag and subsequent restart saw both MacKay and fellow title contender Will Hornblower crash out early, leaving Dion alone out front aboard his LDS Kawasaki.
“The first start was pretty good, but I knew David had the pace, so I just tried to stick with him and manage our Dunlop tires a bit,” Dion said. “Then on the restart I just tried to put my head down and pull a gap on them, but unfortunately they both went down behind me, so we were able to bring home the win.”
Benefitting from the crashes was the typical hard-luck Elliott Vieira, who tied his best career National result with a second-place finish aboard his Snow City Yamaha, while rookie Matt Simpson completed the podium in just his second career Pro race aboard his Evans Racing Yamaha machine.
Completing the top five in the middleweight division were Connor Campbell and Louie Raffa, the former scoring his best career Pro result aboard his Campbell Roofing Kawasaki, while Raffa managed a hard-earned fifth for the Fast Company Honda team.
The opening race of the Super Sonic Race School Lightweight championship was dominated by newcomer Evan Moriarity, who was no match for any of his rivals as he cruised to a debut National victory by over 12 seconds aboard his Yamaha machine.
The gap was much thinner after that, as local youngster Bryce Deboer held on to second ahead of veterans Pat Barnes in third and Jacob Black in fourth, with the three Kawasaki riders separated by just 0.306 seconds across the line.
Jared Walker won the inaugural race in the brand new Pro/Am series, taking the outright victory on track and in the Pro category ahead of Istvan Hidvegi and reigning National Lightweight champion Harvey Renaud, while DeBoer cruised to the top spot in the Amateur division.
Marc Labossiere will start from pole for Sunday’s lone AIM Insurance Amateur Superbike race, after the BMW rider topped qualifying with a time of 1:06.360 – just 0.162 seconds clear of fellow Quebec native Julien Lafortune (Kawasaki) in second.
The gap was even smaller at the top of the Amateur Sport Bike timesheets, as a pair of Kitchener, ON natives were separated by just 0.058 seconds with Sebastian Hothaza taking pole position for Yamaha while Nathan Playford claimed second for Honda.
- From Professional Motorsports Productions